Monday, June 23, 2014

Yet Another Tribute to David Ogilvy

David Mackenzie Ogilvy turned a 103 year old yesterday. The
west of the world map is still celebrating his birth anniversary thanks to different time zones.

It's 2:25am in my part of the world and I'm sitting on my bed, typing on this keyboard, wondering what more can I write about perhaps the most written about man in advertising, that the ad enthusiasts after me would like to go back and read.

I was all of 11 when David Ogilvy died. I only got to know about this man 11 years later but what I did know at that tender age of 10+1 was that I loved ads. While I've not met this legend ever, I am certain if we'd met 11 years ago, I'd have been able to strike up a decent 30 minute conversation with him. One that both he and I would've remembered for the rest of our lives/afterlives, more for the sheer attempt at expressing oneself in the little English one knew in 5th standard.

Confession of an aspiring Adnerd

To be honest, I feel many other ad caliphs before and after him have created far more memorable 'creative' ads. But there's a reason he outdoes each one of them in my mind. The reason is: Legacy.

There's something about each Ogilvy-ite in the few Ogilvy offices across India (and London) that I've met with, that tells you how exceptionally creative, hard working, and humble those people are. You can contest me on that but I firmly believe David Ogilvy is the strongest dead adman ever. One who made sure his agency grew and yet remain rooted years after his demise.

Three years ago, I'd read his book: 'Confessions of an Advertising Man,' and realised I didn't agree on a lot of things he had said. Yet, I found it to be the best primer on advertising one could've asked for. Anyhow, let's not make this post about his book that's been written about more times than the number of selfies clouding the planet.

Exemplary Work on a Boring Category, 1955

But there's one campaign I'd like to talk about. It's the one for Schweppes (a beverage brand) where Ogilvy managed to convince Commander Edward Whitehead (1908-1978), the President of Schweppes (USA) & General Manager (Overseas), to feature in his own brand's print advert.Commander was a British Royal Navy officer and a World War II veteran.

To give you a sense of how revered Commander Whitehead was - English painter Bernard Hailstone (1910 – 1987) who is mostly remembered for his paintings of Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Mountbatten and Peter Ustinov (an actor), had also painted an oil on canvas portrait of our Schweppes man. Wait, did I just call him the Schweppes man? That's right.

That's what struck Ogilvy in 1955 when he decided to not invent a character or deploy a random chiselled face to endorse the tonic water (which, needless to say, was a boring category), and got Edward to become the face of the brand's communication.

10 years on

Commander Whitehead with his pizzazz, suave appearance and distinct grey beard, did the magic. The spell lasted for over a decade and the campaign remains their most popular one to this day. And it's because of campaigns such as these, that David Ogilvy will possibly remain the most popular ad man for another half century, if not more.


Here's the text of the copy, and the main ad from the campaign underneath: 

The Man from Schweppes is Here

      Meet Commander Edward Whitehead, Schweppesman Extraordinary from London, England, where the house of Schweppes has been a great institution since 1794. 

Commander Whitehead has come to these United States to make sure that every drop of Schweppes Quinine Water bottled here has the original flavor which has long made Schweppes the only mixer for and authentic Gin-and-Tonic. 

He imports the original Schweppes elixir, and the secret of Schweppes unique carbonation is locked in his brief case. “Schweppervescence,” says the Commander, “lasts the whole drink through.” 

It took Schweppes almost a hundred years to bring the flavor of their Quinine Water to its present bittersweet perfection. 

But it will take you only thirty seconds to mix it with ice and gin in a high ball glass. Then, gentle reader, you will bless the day you read these words. 

P.S. If your favorite store or bar doesn’t yet have Schweppes, drop a card to us and we’ll make the proper arrangements. Address Schweppes, 30 East 60th Street, New York City.

Pictures courtesy:,

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Beats by Dre - Best FIFA World Cup Ad ever

First off, I don't watch football. Second, this blog talks only about the legends in advertising, eponymous with the blog title, of course. But something tells me that two decades from now, if this world survives, people will mention this video among the classics of FIFA World Cup ads. I'm just doing it 20 years too early. 

But before the story of the ad, you'd have to bear with the story of how I got to this ad. Here goes, 

It was 4:28am. So this happened two hours ago, basically. I had just come back from office. Wasn't one bit tired but I knew I had to sleep. Until I chanced upon a Facebook post by Adweek which had, what at first glance looked like a convoluted headline: Did Beats by Dre Just Out-Nike Nike With This Incredible World Cup Ad? 

I read it again. And realised Tim Nudd, the senior editor - creative at Adweek had indeed out-done himself in the headline and that the story is going to be great. Then I saw the ad. More like savoured it. 

At first, it catches your attention for lines like 'Run like it is the last day of your life,' and 'Don't hold back.' And then the real deal begins. The soundtrack "Jungle" by Jamie N Commons & The X Ambassadors starts to take over your mood. And how. So where does R/GA come into picture? In holding my interest with the visuals. 

Basically, for a non-football viewer, it's the strength of their visuals that makes me want to know the game and the people involved in it. It makes me want to find out who's that player whose being surmounted in place of God and being worshipped in a house. It makes me smile at the sight of a woman who has her country's flag painted on her nails (And I haven't worn nail paint in my life, ever) 

What I like the most about this five minute video is that not once does it feel like an ordeal. The next best thing would be the fact that it establishes the brand connect for me, strongly at that. It's about headphones. You use them to hear your folks clearly on the phone before getting into the team van, and keep them on until you step into the field. It keeps the right tempo of 
'The Game Before The Game' as the tagline beautifully brings out. 

But you know what's best and the rarest? This ad makes me want to buy Beats by Dre's new range of headphones. I have seen umpteen ads in the last two decades and will remember some of them fondly until I die. But never had an ad made me want to buy the said product. This, my friend, is the superlative of #win. 


And now, you can watch the ad: 

Picture courtesy:

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gillette - Look Sharp, Feel Sharp, Be Sharp

Let's play the Brand-Tagline game. What's the one tagline that comes to mind when I say - Gillette
'The Best A Man Can Get,' right? 

No, this post is not about that 1989 born slogan created by BBDO, that first received an audience during the then Super Bowl game. In fact, this is not about a slogan at all. This story is about a little birdie that BBDO created for Gillette, 62 years ago. 

Time-travel time. Year 1952: BBDO creates an animated parrot to sound off Gillette's message - Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp. The parrot is baptised as Sharpie. What follows is a jingle that later becomes popular as 'The Look Sharp March.' Here goes the rhythmic script: 

Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp …
And listen mister!
How are you fixed for blades? (do you have many?)
How are you fixed for blades? (you’d better check!)
Please make sure you have enough –
‘cos a worn-out blade makes shaving mighty tough!
How are you fixed for blades? (you’d better look!)
Gillette Blue blades are neat!

You better look at the original video as well now: 

Chartbuster: Composed by Mahlon Merrick (of The Jack Benny Show fame), the march was first aired during the 1952 World Series (of Baseball, where Gillette was the *coughs* official sponsor) match played between the Dodgers and the Yankees. Consequently, 'The Look Sharp March' turned out to be the most played march at high school and college football game half-time shows in the USA for almost two decades.


Value for money: Gillette did not spend a fortune on the television campaigns initially, since the brand was not sure of the effectiveness of TV as a medium. But whatever little they invested, reaped them higher than expected value for the brand. With the advent of Nielsen's Audience data, they were able to correlate the arrival of television in every household, with their rising sales figures. (Their very own *huge sigh of relief moment*) Some reports from that time suggest that the parrot was as popular as the sport stars of that period. 

Breakup: Gillette recently ended its 80 year long relationship with BBDO by awarding its creative mandate to Grey Worldwide across regions. BBDO that created its spokesbird, its famous tagline and fetched the first Creative Effectiveness Award at Cannes Lions 2011 for Shave Sutra - Women against lazy stubble (that was from India). Grey has a tough legacy to match up to.  

 - Shephali 

Pictures courtesy: